Don’t just waste your time on a layover sitting in an airport browsing sunglasses you don’t need and Hudson News tabloid headlines for five hours. Get out of the airport and spend a few days in a new city by either extending that business trip or flexible vacation. Let’s call it a laycation. A stopover that turns into a vacation. We all know that direct flights are generally more expensive, so layovers are what we do to save money.
But according to Mirela Necsutu from Fareboom.com, booking a flight that stops at additional destinations costs about as much as buying a direct flight. “Once you have realized that you can get more travel for less, you’ll want to start checking out your options. Layovers are usually already worked into the flight itinerary, so all you have to do is extend it slightly,” said Necsutu. “For instance, I recently took a flight to Taipei, Taiwan that had a stopover in Japan. I used a multi-city search for this trip and was able to spend 48 hours in Osaka for free. Airlines aren’t concerned with how long your stop is, so you can usually hop on a flight a few days later to get to your final destination.”
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For instance, if you have to travel from San Francisco to Saigon, this may involve stops in both Beijing and Bangkok, especially if you’re on a budget and searching for the lowest fare. So arrange for a few extra days and get to actually know the sights and cultures of your stop cities. Some airlines actually allow you stay up to a year! But what if you simply don’t have the time to linger more than a day? With six hours at your disposal, you have nothing to lose by getting a taste of the new city you’re in. The truth is thanks to high-speed trains and better urban planning, being stuck at the airport isn’t what it used to be. For instance if you’re headed to Florence, why not pit stop in Amsterdam, Dublin, Frankfurt, London, or Paris? These major hubs all feature easy, fast and affordable transit systems that can get you from the airport to their city centers in no time.
What’s the best way to arrange this all online if you don’t have a travel agent? Using a travel site like Kayak.com, click and open up the “details” box of the flight itinerary, which displays the flight number, schedule—and most importantly—the stopover, or “connection” city. Automatically, it will offer you the next available flight to or towards you final destination. On Fareboom.com mentioned above, which has a multiple city feature already built in, search for your destination and desired stopping city, then leave a two-day range before and after to be shown several options and rates. Don’t limit yourself to only one city either if you have the time, try a trifecta in Europe with Venice, London and Rome, adding only a few dollars for the extra days and destinations. And don’t forget to write your loved ones at home if your vacation, turned laycation becomes a staycation.